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Thursday, June 18, 2009
WRITING, REJECTIONS AND SUPPORT
I belong to a wonderful yahoo group called Sweetest Romance Authors. This group of authors and readers believe romance can be written without describing graphic love scenes such as behind bedroom doors. We know extreme sensuality is portrayed on soap operas or written into so many short stories and novels. When you think about it, the sweet romances are more of a challenge to write. Many writers have met that challenge. The clean, tasteful, honest and loving interaction between a man and woman portrays a love based on emotions and attraction, admiration and character, a solid foundation. This love does not emphasize the physical aspect, but rather the bond that lasts forever.
Picture the man gently touching the woman’s cheek with the back of his hand, that woman taking his hand and kissing his palm, the man relishing the faint smell of lavender in her hair, the woman sighing, the man swallowing as they make eye contact. Imagine the man’s gaze sweeping over the woman’s face, the woman centering on the man’s lips, touching them with her hand, and then closing the distance until their lips meet. Words are spoken as they separate. “I love you, and I always will.” “Death will not sever our bond of love.”
Should I follow that paragraph with the unhappy subject of rejections we suffer when we submit our writing? We all have our rejection stories to tell and please allow me to relate some of mine.
I’ve received rejections from editors, publishing houses, agents and author friends. The latter take the form of criticisms, always constructive. I’ve had rejections that hurt me deeply, infuriated me and given me hope. They all have one thing in common. They are rejections but the likeness stops there. The difference comes in the measure of professionalism used.
One of the most infuriating rejections I received was my query letter returned with a rubber stamp plastered on it as a rejection. That has to be the most lame, unprofessional rejection there is. This was by men who were authors themselves in the genre my novel was in. The most hurtful rejection I’ve received was on an ebook. I was told (suggested?) to take a couple of basic writing courses before submitting anything else. Granted, I need to work on varying my sentence structure but is that basic? I’m happy to say another website accepted that story and didn’t feel I needed a primer in English.
I had one agent who stirred all three emotions I mentioned. The first rejection letter she wrote diagonal across the form letter that I was on the right track. The second novel pages I sent, she wrote words like, “ugh” across a few sentences, very unprofessional in my book. Two years later I sent her an email on a third novel. It’s been six months and no answer.
Let me end this section on rejections with an upbeat note. In 2006 and 2008, I had a brief session with an agent at the Antioch Writers Workshop in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Each lady requested the first 50 pages of a novel I pitched. Although the lady from 2006 took seven months to reply, she apologized in a personal letter and in rejecting my novel she made the statement, “you may well be onto something here, but. . .” The lady in 2008 said in her rejection letter, “though I’m impressed with your story concept, . . .,” “Despite the many riches here, . . .” These sorts of rejections do not hurt, in fact they are encouraging and those ladies showed their professionalism. There are other rejection stories but I’ll just say a few of the big time science fiction magazines had editors who actually took the time to respond personally to their countless submissions and usually have remarks for my SF stories like, “well enough written, but. . .” and “I enjoyed the references to Amelia Earhart, but. . .” Those were complimentary.
Let me conclude by commending my many supportive friends. That includes the authors in the Sweetest Romance yahoo group I’m happy to be a member of, three editors at Wild Rose and two editors at Red Rose who accepted my stories. They have all praised my descriptive prose, commended me on character development and indicated my ability to craft a story. They have asked to see more. Reviews have been great and I’ve made numerous friends including a lady in England.
Thank you, Tami for inviting me to guest blog. I hope you will invite me again.